STUDENT OF THE YEAR | 20 October, 2012

Dharma Productions’ Student Of The Year (UA), set in a high-school campus, is a story about friendship, with the romantic angle thrown in. St. Teresa is a prestigious high school where there are, basically, two kinds of students – spoilt kids of the rich and famous, and the intelligent children from middle-class families. Rohan Nanda (Varun Dhawan) is one such student studying in the school. Son of one of the richest Indian men (Ram Kapoor), he is arrogant, brash and has a glad eye. He doesn’t get along at all with his father who misses no opportunity to ridicule him because of what he thinks are his son’s middle-class pursuits including his dreams of becoming a rockstar rather than toeing the business line. Rohan loves Shanaya Singhania (Alia Bhatt) who is affluent and wears only designer labels. She, too, hates her parents. She loves Rohan but is unhappy about his proximity to other girls, especially school-mate Tanya (Sana Syed) who lusts for Varun.

Abhimanyu Singh (Sidharth Mal­hotra) joins the school. He hails from a middle-class family and lives with his grandmother (Farida Jalal), paternal uncle (Akshay Anand) and aunt (Manini De) as his parents are no more. He is focussed and wants to study hard so that he can become a big man.

At first, Rohan and Abhimanyu can’t see eye to eye but an incident changes the equation and they become best friends. Abhimanyu even advises Shanaya on how to ensure that her boyfriend, Rohan, does not stray. However, Abhimanyu soon finds himself being attracted towards Shanaya. Shanaya, too, falls in love with Abhimanyu. Or does she?

All hell breaks loose when Rohan senses that there is something between Abhimanyu and Shanaya. There develops a rift in their friendship.

Even as all this romantic drama is unfolding, Rohan, Abhimanyu, Shanaya and the rest of the students are all competing for the Student Of The Year trophy which would go to the best student. There are several rounds of tests and those emerging successful in test after test are Abhimanyu, Rohan, Shanaya, Tanya, Shruti (Mansi Rach), Jeet (Sahil Anand), Sudo (Kayoze Irani) and Dimpy (Man­jot Singh). The competition is like a do-or-die one because Dean Yogend­ra Vashishth (Rishi Kapoor), year after year, makes his students compete fiercely with each other to bag the trophy. The dean is gay and has a soft corner for the sports coach (Ronit Roy).

Who wins the Student Of The Year cup? And how? Do Abhimanyu and Rohan become friends again? Whom does Shanaya settle down in life with?

The film begins a decade after the high school days of the children are over. Dean Yogendra Vashishth is battling for his life in a hospital in Dehradun, and Sudo decides to have a reunion of sorts in the Dehradun hospital. Do all the school friends meet there? Do the old grudges resurface?

Karan Johar’s story has entertainment as its catchword. It may have traces of 3 Idiots, Dil Chahta Hai and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar but elemen­ts from these films have been so intelligently incorporated that the audience doesn’t mind the inspirations as what is served to them is a masala fare full of fun and frolic. Rensil D’silva’s screenplay is beautifully written. Rensil doesn’t for a moment lose sight of Karan’s vision for providing entertainment and writes scenes and sequences which entertain the audience continuously. If the first half is light and fun-filled, the post-interval portion has more drama. What could probably have been a little more pro­nounced was the emotional content. The drama does touch the heart but it does not evoke tears, something which could’ve made the film more solid! However, it must be reiterated that Karan and Rensil deserve kudos for giving a cent per cent engrossing fare to the viewers, keeping their interest in a drama starring three rank new­comers alive throughout. For instan­ce, the various phases of the Student Of The Year competition are very exci­ting and they involve the audience while entertaining them to the hilt. The tracks of romance and friendship are also superb. Aiding the story and screenplay greatly are the dialogues penned by Niranjan Iyengar. It would not be incorrect to say that Iyengar’s dialogues are extraordinary and very appropriate. Note, for instance, how Rohan, who lives with his parents, asks the orphaned Abhimanyu if he misses his parents and when Abhi­manyu answers in the affirmative, he (Rohan) says, “I, too, miss my par­ents.” It is not just the intense dialogues but also the bitchy and fun dialogues which have been superbly penned.

All the three newcomers make absolutely dashing debuts and will become stars overnight. Sidharth Mal­hotra looks very handsome and does a splendid job in his maiden film. He is camera-friendly and performs uninhi­bitedly, connecting instantly with the audience. Varun Dhawan is also handsome and performs excellently. This doesn’t at all look like his first film. He carries off the character of a rich, spoilt brat with the right attitude. Both the heroes are good dancers but both need to improve their performan­ce in emotional scenes. Alia Bhatt is cute, confident and a good performer. She plays Shanaya Singhania with understanding and she, too, is a fine dancer. Rishi Kapoor deserves full marks for playing the gay dean with full conviction. He is such a reservoir of talent that it’s a delight to watch him give that special something to every scene of his! Ram Kapoor plays the ruthless, heartless father fabulously. Kayoze Irani excels in the role of Sudo. Sahil Anand (playing Jeet) has his moments in the second half. Mansi Rach leaves a mark in the role of Shruti. Sana Syed is also good as Tanya. Manjot Singh is lovable. Ronit Roy lends the dignity needed to the character of the sports coach he plays. Farida Jalal is oh so endearing. Manini De lends wonderful support. Akshay Anand is appropriate Gau­tami Kapoor is restrained. Prachi Shah leaves a mark as the sports coach’s wife who is hated by the dean. Sidharth Sharma is alright as Rohan’s elder brother. Boman Irani stands out in a special appearance. Kajol lends star value in a tiny special appearan­ce. Farah Khan and Vaibhavi Mer­chant also provide star value as judges in the dance competition. Sushma Seth and the others lend good support.

Karan Johar’s direction is splendid. First of all, he has extracted great work from so many newcomers! Secondly, he has adopted a narrative style which keeps the audience engrossed and involved and actually asking for more. His brilliant directorial touches and marks of excellence are visible all through the film. Vishal-Shekhar’s music lives up to the fun and romantic mood of the film. ‘Radha’, ‘Ishq waala love’ and the remixed ‘Disco deewane’ song are the standout numbers. The other songs are fast-paced and entertaining. Anvita Dutt’s lyrics are excellent. Song picturisations are eye-filling and the choreo­graphy (‘Radha’ and ‘Ishq waala’ by Farah Khan; ‘Disco deewane’ by Remo D’souza; ‘Kukkad’ and ‘Shan­aya’ by Vaibhavi Merchant; ‘Vele’ by Bosco-Caesar) is extraordinary. Background music (by Vishal Shekhar) is wonderful. Ayananka Bose’s cinema­tography is outstanding. The cameraman has excellently aided the director in presenting his vision. Amrita’s sets are just too beautiful. Deepa Bhatia’s editing is fantastic. Production values are as grand as grand can be. Tech­nically, outstanding.

On the whole, Student Of The Year is a supremely entertaining and enjoyable fare which will do hit business all over. Not just in the multiplex­es but also in the single-screen cinemas, it will strike a chord in the audience’s hearts. It will be adored by the youth (which has ensured the lovely initial) and loved by the families which will start patronising the film soon. It will give the industry three new stars who will shine brightly for years to come!

Released on 19-10-’12 at Regal (daily 2 shows), Eros (daily 3 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by Dharma Productions thru A.A. Films. Publicity: outstanding. Opening: excellent. …….Also released all over. Considering that it stars newcomers, the opening can be termed outstanding everywhere!